Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Damacus Etching Solutions

What Acid Solutions to use for Etching My Damascus Steel?

I have just finally received my fieldsmithy and anvil and can really start out with my own projects. I wish to focus on blades, from knives to swords, and especially patternwelded. Now I have found a lot of information on patternwelding, but have to practice on it ofcourse. But I can't find anything clear about the acid used for etching to get the pattern out.

I am planning to use iron plates and carbon steel stacked and welded together for the patternweld, and after a lot of research I have found out that on basis of the material used the etching solution is different. So basically my big question would be, what would I use for the iron+carbon steel stack, and what would I need for low carbon + medium/high carbon steel stack when it comes to etching.

There are many etching solutions and all will work to a certain degree.
I have used
Sulfuric acid (battery acid)
Nitric acid
Ferric Chloride

Sulfuric I have been using lately as it is easy to get and quite cost effective. Find a local automotive supplier to get it in bulk.
Nitric has a very aggressive bite and you may only leave the piece in for a few minutes.
Ferric Chloride has a slow etch but easy to control.
Vinegar is almost a discoloration although by heating it you will get a bit of an etch.

With all Acids take proper precautions.
Face Shield
Rubber Apron and Gloves
Neutralizing Agent
Eye Wash
Fresh Water for Rinsing or Flushing
Proper disposal of used Acid solution

Some of the acids can be mixed to achieve different looks. You should experiment to develop your own recipes.
Remember to always ad acid to water for diluting not the other way around.

This book has some useful information on etching for pattern development

Here is another link to Other Useful books With Etching Info
I hope this helps.

David Robertson
Artist Blacksmith

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